My family and I have been collecting miles and points for several years now. Through careful use of credit card signup bonuses (we have 43 cards), promotions and (gasp!) actual occasional paid flights or hotel stays, we have earned and redeemed more than 2 million miles and points and still have a million more. We’ve taken our whole family on 3 Amtrak train trips, to Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore, Disney World, California and the “real” geographical center of the United States.
We’ve also used miles and points for getaway trips for my wife and I (bartering for babysitting). We’ve gone to Puerto Rico, Miami, Peru and flew first class around the world. Most of our points are usually used for hotel points or car rentals, because the economies of “fly vs. drive” skew very hard towards driving when there are 8 of you! We have done a couple of family flights – most recently using 176,000 Delta Skymiles to fly our family roundtrip from Ohio to Sacramento to visit my sister and her family.
The True Value of Miles and Points
While my wife and I were in Peru, I took a minute to think through miles and points and the opportunities that they have given me.
I do realize how ridiculous some of my travels seem sometimes when I try to explain them. I am not trying to come off like the “Me Monster” in Brian Regan’s “I walked on the moon” sketch:
“mmm yeah got my own global enterprise, gotta get to Zurich cuz I keep a fleet of sports cars there and I got a Swiss account gotta check it – Mt Kiliminjaro expedition might have to cancel that- runways in Aspen are always shorter the first time Pacific Rim Company me me me ME!”
At least to me, it’s not really like that – it’s just the power of miles and points.
Being Able to Go Anywhere
The true value of miles and points is that it makes pretty much anywhere in the world accessible for family vacations. When your travel (airfare) and lodging (hotel) costs are covered with points, then pretty much anywhere in the world will cost about the same as anywhere else (cost of living of course still a factor but not a big one over the course of days / weeks).
When folks were amazed that we were going all the way to Peru, I felt like saying “We can go to Peru for the same cost as it would be to go to St. Louis!”
Sure, your activities, food and incidentals will cost you – there’s not really anything like “free” travel. But that’s true no matter where you go, and even true if you just stay home! Careful budgeting can help to keep those down as well – we managed to take our family of 8 to California for a week for under $600 total.